CENTRAL COAST - Now that Christmas is over, cities across the Central Coast are encouraging you to properly dispose of your Christmas tree.
So instead of throwing it out with your Holiday leftovers, why not consider recycling your greens?
Tom Martin of San Luis Garbage says not only is it good for the planet, it's law: "Number one, it's important because of AB 939, the State Law. In addition to that, it also keeps the tree out of the landfill."
Russ Hicks from Santa Barbara County Waste Management in Santa Maria agrees: "There's no reason to just take the trees and throw them in a landfill. The trees are able to be ground up and used as mulch." He continues, "They're able to be re-used, and basically live again."
At the Cold Canyon Landfill in San Luis Obispo, we see the process in action. Trees are ground, put in a wind row, rotated, and watered. Eventually, the piles become mulch so pricey, it's known as "black gold."
Martin explains, "After about ten weeks at this time of year, it'll turn into what we call black gold, which is compost."
Right here on the Central Coast, the "black gold" compost goes back to good use in the local fields, even in vineyards. Some call this "completing the cycle."
For those with an artificial tree, the debate continues as to whether it's best to keep a fake tree for years at a time, as opposed to buying a new, live tree every year. Tom Martin of San Luis Garbage adds, "It's really tough. If you have a fake tree, and it gets broken, and you throw it away, there's nothing really that we can do with it. It gets thrown in the trash, and it gets buried in the ground, and it's there for 100 years years before anything really happens to it."
For those interested in taking the environmental effort one step further, Martin suggests: "An even better idea is a live tree that you have in a pot, and you can bring it in-and-out of the house once a year."
If you do choose to recycle your tree this year, make sure the tree is stripped of all its decorations. No flocking is allowed, as it pollutes the process of turning the greens to mulch.
Each city has its own regulations and times, click here for Santa Barbara County, and click here for San Luis Obispo County.
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